A Warm Welcome To The ProTran RS06/H
here’s a very interesting news item – one combining
a familiar chassis, a new (but already familiar) engine, a new name,
months of preparation and hybrid work (by a couple of familiar names),
and a familiar name from British GTs in the past.
Paul Cope is
the man behind this project: some readers will remember that he
raced his Venturis in the British GT Championship.
2KQ chassis (009) originally raced at Le Mans in 2000, 2001 and
2002, DNF’ing twice, but winning the LMP675 Class in 2001,
driven by Jordi Gene, Jean-Denis Deletraz and Pascal Fabre. It was
VW (Lehmann) powered then, but it will be back on the tracks this
year, running as a hybrid, and powered by AER’s brand new
V8 twin turbo engine.
already know that with the Nasamax conversion, other than the carbon
tub, every other panel and virtually every component was modified
or redesigned,” explains Paul Cope. “In fact, even the
tub had new safety features bonded onto it.”
same applies to the ProTran RS06/H, so with only the tub itself
carried over to the new project, it more than justifies the new
But originally, this was going to be an LMP2 prototype, for 2006.
was originally completed last August in LMP2 spec., using the AER
four cylinder, 2 litre engine, with the original Gemini gearbox,”
explains Paul Cope. “The car came in ‘on the weight’
at 753 kg, but I had concerns about compromises in the chassis,
having regard to the strength of the 2005 LMP2 grid and particularly
the Lolas and the Courages. The RS05 (as it was then) was a big
car for LMP2 and was unlikely to be as aero efficient as the new
generation cars, with 500bhp.”
So the plan
changed, significantly, in the third quarter of 2005.
“At around that time, Mike Lancaster announced the V8 twin
turbo, and that pretty much made up my mind. This meant that the
back end, from the tub backwards, came off entirely. The Gemini
box was unlikely to be strong or reliable enough with the increase
power and torque. There was therefore really only one choice for
the replacement, this being the Ricardo transverse, 6-speed sequential.
I think that this was also AER's preferred option as the ‘box
ties in well electronically with their paddle shift system and the
fly by wire throttle controls.”
So here we have
an updated Reynard tub, and effectively an all-new, LMP1 car built
up around it.
sunk a lot into this project!” admits Mr. Cope.
Kieron Salter’s (KWM) Reynard and Nasamax connections (the
original design and the John McNeil hybrid), he was the natural
choice to pen the details, while (former Harrier designer) Lester
Ray (left) has “carried out huge amounts of work on the car
and is now well and truly absorbed into the team. He is an extremely
knowledgeable and very useful guy.
(right) is the ACO nominated "manufacturer" for the Reynard,”
continues Paul Cope, “and we could not have done the whole
thing without him. He is an extremely personable bloke with both
feet planted firmly on the ground. He inspires a great deal of confidence
in his design work and I very much hope that we can keep him close
to the team.
about a week away from shaking the car down. At the moment the car
is in Lester Ray’s workshop in Ripley (Surrey), having the
final details of the engine installation completed.”
was formed by Paul Cope in 1999, and his team will be moving from
its current Berkshire base to the Surrey area of SE England shortly.
So the transitional
period of the ACO regulations has given rise to another interesting
new prototype. Who was it who said that a monocoque was nothing
more than a big bracket to hang everything from?
And this ‘big
bracket’ (and its new components) will be powered by an engine
that James Weaver referred to as “very solid, vibration-free,
it revs freely, and it’s everything a driver wants.”
So who is going
to drive? Paul Cope himself will, while a driver who raced against
this chassis in its previous, successful, era at Le Mans is talking
to the team – Kevin McGarrity. The Irishman has Nasamax experience
of a similar chassis, of course.
The third driver
is TBA at the moment.
we can tie something up with Kevin as he's a really good bloke as
well as being bloody quick!” comments Paul Cope.
the season-long plan? The Le Mans Series, and...
indeed put in an entry for Le Mans and Kieron Salter presented the
entry form and dossier to the ACO technical people in January,”
says Paul Cope, “to ensure that they were happy with the hybrid
issues. We are otherwise, as they say, "not holding our breath"
owing to the lack of international endurance experience, but who
Le Mans is firstly about getting that entry, then it’s about
being prepared – then it’s all about finishing the race.
The 2KQ was nothing if not robust and the ProTran redesign does
nothing to detract from that reliability, so although the 24 Hours
could see the first round-the-clock test of the new engine, it could
also see one last Le Mans hurrah for a chassis that won its class
And then it would make a very useful ALMS prototype in 2007….